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Swiss scientists print world's smallest color picture

The picture itself scored a Guinness World Record, but the real achievement, researchers say, is the new technology.

By Brooks Hays
Swiss scientists print world's smallest color picture
Swiss researchers recently printed the smallest color picture in the world. The picture, printed using quantum dots, is the size of a cross section of a single strand of hair or a single pixel on a smartphone display -- 0.0092 square millimeters. Photo by ETH Zurich

ZURICH, Switzerland, Dec. 16 (UPI) -- Scientists in Switzerland are making art for atoms -- art perfectly proportioned for a face mite museum.

Using newly invented 3D NanoDrip printing technology, researchers at ETH Zurich recently printed the world's smallest color picture.

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The picture, which features clown fishes swimming by sea anemones, is the size of a cross section of a single strand of hair or a single pixel on a smartphone display -- 0.0092 square millimeters.

The image is too small to see with the naked eye; to take it in, a special microscope is necessary.

The printing technology doesn't use traditional ink, but quantum dots. Quantum dots, or QDs, are semiconducting nanoparticles that emit a distinct color of light. They can be manipulated to emit different frequencies, thus changing their color.

The printer layered red, green and blue quantum dots with perfect precision, creating an image with the resolution of 25,000 dots per inch, or DPI. The best laser printers are capable of upwards of 2,400 DPI.

The picture itself scored a Guinness World Record, but the real achievement, researchers say, is the new technology -- specifically the ability to control the placement of each QD with sub-nanometer precision.

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Such incredible accuracy is sure to create new opportunities for the use of nanostructured materials in electronics, optics and biotechnologies.

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